No.8 seed Paula Badosa had to dig deep to make it into her first career round-of-16 showing at the season’s first Grand Slam. In a thrilling Australian Open clash, the Spaniard overcome a second-set comeback by Marta Kostyuk before beating the Ukrainian teenager 6-2, 5-7, 6-4. Badosa was cruising to victory at one point, but saw a commanding 6-2, 4-2 lead slip away in no time. However, she managed to regroup in the final set to see out the important win. Badosa, who is ranked a career-high No.6 on the back of her Sydney title last week, won the contest after 2 hours and 19 minutes for her eighth straight match-win.
“I knew she was looking forward to play against me since the day the draw was out, because she told me,” Badosa said in her post-match press conference. “I was like, ‘OK, it’s going to be a battle today.’ So I’m really happy that I went through that. I think I played a very good level in the third set. I knew I had to put the best and to go to the limit against her because she was going for it, she was going for the lines. It was very tough.”
Badosa will be next playing against former Top 10 player Madison Keys of the United States. Keys got past Wang Qiang of China 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 in 2 hours and 21 minutes to reach the Australian Open Round of 16 for the fifth time in her career.
“At the beginning of the second set, I just kind of thought, ‘Well, I might as well just swing, I’m already down a set,'” Keys said after her win. “Might as well see if this works.
“I was just really trying to keep giving myself the opportunity to get back into the match, and then once I was able to do that, in the third set I think we both really raised our levels, and played a really, really close match. I think in the tiebreak, I kind of blacked out and it was some of my best tennis.”
Earlier, two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka on Friday sailed into the Round of 16 with a comfortable win. The No.24 seed from Belarus eased past No.15 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-0, 6-2. She won the lopsided contest after just 1 hour and 7 minutes of play.
“I thought I was really well-executing my game plan,” Azarenka said. “I wanted to put as much pressure as I could on her and kind of not let her come into the match. She’s an amazing fighter. I know if I give her a little room, she’s going to get back out there. That was my purpose today, and I think I executed that well.”